Our youngest has a Christmas Eve birthday. A few years ago we offered him the option of celebrating it near his half-birthday. He seemed to think this was a good idea, as the day would be all his and not rushed with other family and holiday events. Thus, for the last four or five years we have had a birthday dinner and dessert in June or July.
Last year he asked for strawberry shortcake. When he and I talked about the type of cake he wanted to use for the shortcake, I thought that he wanted angel food cake. After eating his birthday dessert, he told me that he had misspoken and actually had wanted pound cake, but that he liked the angel food cake just as well. It turns out that he really does like angel food cake better, as that was he requested when we celebrated his eleventh half-birthday this past Saturday.
To make this cake, some people may find the whipping of the egg whites to be daunting, but it really is quite simple. In fact, I think that most recipes make it more difficult than necessary. Quite often recipes state that the flour and powdered sugar need to be sifted multiple times. I simply whisk the flour and sugar to remove any clumps. This takes almost no time and has produced delicious, light cakes.
From my perspective, there are two important things to know before making this cake. The first is to find an item on which you can invert your tube pan. My pan has a narrow opening, so I have needed to construct a base for the inverted pan using a meat mallet. You should have your base chosen before you have a ridiculously hot cake pan that needs to be placed upside down. The second is that you should set your eggs on the counter several hours before making the cake. They will whip much better if they are at room temperature.
Angel Food Cake
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup flour
1-1/2 cups egg whites (approximately 10 large eggs)
1-1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 350. Combine flour and powdered sugar in a medium bowl, whisking to remove any clumps. Set aside.
Pour egg whites into stand mixer bowl. Add cream of tartar and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, a tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Remove bowl from stand mixer.
Sprinkle one-fourth of the flour/powdered sugar mixture over the egg whites. Fold gently. Repeat, adding the flour mixture in fourths. Pour into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan. Use a spatula or butter knife to cut through the batter and remove air pockets.
Bake on the lowest oven rack for 40-45 minutes. The top of the cake will spring back when touched lightly, if the cake is done. Immediately invert cake onto your chosen base; cool thoroughly. You will need to use a knife to loosen the cake from the sides of the pan.